As many of you know, I was accepted into the Peace Corps. It was something I worked extremely hard for, was very passionate about, and ultimately declined.
I started the application process in September, just at the start of school, didn’t do much research and sent off my application at the end of October. November, I had an interview, and they sent me an invitation of acceptance three days ago.
During the time between when I sent off my application and up until today (almost midnight on the end of the third final decision day), I did my research. I read blogs, I talked to people, I watched videos, explored the Peace Corps website, read through the informational materials that the Peace Corps sent to me of what my duties would be, etc etc.
It became very clear to me that this two year commitment in a country I had already been to once before, was going to be extremely restrictive. No visits home, no social media, no Google, no US news, nothing. Extremely cut off in hard conditions (which I’ve read numerous times made people depressed, which I’ll discuss more in a sec), and was not the type of situation I wanted to be in. It wasn’t going to be a conducive environment for me to help the country or the community I would be immersed in if I wasn’t happy.
And I was becoming more and more unhappy just thinking about making the decision. I told a few people that I hoped they would decline me so I wouldn’t have to make the decision myself.
Was being chosen a huge honor? YES. A thousand times yes. But the more I thought about it and the more people I talked to, I was convincing myself to go for the wrong reasons; It was to please other people who they themselves had never gone or would never go. It was to prove people wrong that I could do this crazy wild thing and survive.
And that’s not a good enough reason. I’m no quitter. I see things through to the end. My freshman year of college, I was extremely depressed. I didn’t do well in school, I slept a lot, I didn’t take care of myself, and I was not at my peak. It was a tough adjustment period, living away from home for the first time and trying to navigate college. But I got through it. I was still connected and able to fall into simple comforts like social media, books, etc. The Peace Corps would limit that list down and I’m not ready for that.
So, I made the decision to not go. Am I going to be missing out on amazing opportunities? Yes. Does that bother me? Sure, but I’m a strong believer in everything happening for a reason, and I knew I would be happier not making that jump just yet. I felt physically ill thinking about accepting it, I would wake up at night, heart pounding, thinking about having to tell them yes. And I only felt that way because of the people around me pressuring me to do something I didn’t want to do.
Sometimes you have to say no. And saying no is okay. I’ll figure out things as I go, graduation is still a long way off and I’ve got a few backup plans in my pocket, but for now, I’m staying right where I belong. Because this is my life and I’ll be damned if anyone tries to make decisions for me.
10 Replies to “I Was Accepted Into the Peace Corps (And Why I Declined It)”
Sounds as if you have a good head on your shoulders, Paige.
Good for you on following your instincts.
Well I’m glad that you made the right decision for you, even if it wasn’t easy. (:
wow! i think you are very wise for your age! a lot of people have trouble saying no, especially to something that is attractive on the surface. it’s good to figure out the difference between what you truly want and what others want for you, as well as the difference between what others want for you–or even what *you* want for you–and what’s actually healthy for you! i wish i had been so wise! i made a life changing decision when i was young, without doing my research first and completely based on what would impress others or prove people wrong and got myself into quite a sticky situation. so trust me when i say you made a good choice. it takes a lot of strength and wisdom to know yourself, but it sounds like you’ve got it down!
I really liked this, as someone who is thinking of withdrawing my application. Thanks for the insight!
You’re gonna kick butt at whatever you do, bae! It never hurts to explore options.
I’m sure it wasn’t the easiest decision, but only you can determine what’s best for you. Interestingly, I recently returned to the US after completing my Peace Corps Service, and actually returned to the US twice (most people do so at least once), and while I didn’t have daily access to Internet and social media, I was able to connect frequently enough to maintain a connection to support network at home (and a blog), but was disconnected enough to form strong and meaningful relationships with the people of my host community, which is critical for successful immersion and overall service. Extremely restrictive isn’t a term that I’ve heard many people use to describe to Peace Corps, but I recognize that every country has it’s unique challenges, and it’s okay if you do not feel prepared/capable/willing to face the challenges of the country that you were assigned to. If there was a passion or something in your heart that called you to apply for Peace Corps, I hope that you’ll be willing to consider it again in the future, maybe even another country. It’s truly the toughest job you’ll ever love, and though not for everyone, an experience that could be worth the world. Just wanted to share a different perspective, but I’m happy that you were able to make the decision that was right for your life right now. Again, only you can determine what’s best for you. Best wishes to you
Thank you for your sound advice and sharing your experience. I was invited to serve in Ghana and am considering declining the invitation. (I have until tomorrow to decide). I feel it is timing that is off and perhaps the country too. I was eager about Thailand. But, with reading your insights, after declining I will sit with this and see if I am truly called to serve in the PC and if so, look at the positions and countries more closely. I sorta went into the application with rose colored glasses. Thank you for your service.
Am currently in my 72 hours of decision making, and I am glad to hear someone has had similar thoughts/experiences to my own. I haven’t decided yet, but am having a lot of similar doubts. Thanks for sharing!
I am in your exact situation currently. If you don’t mind me asking, what did you decide?
Sorry for my late response! I decided to decline their offer.